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Raúl Rivero travels to the Czech Republic

2005-07-01 / Roisin Joyce

Raul Rivero, independent opposition journalist and former prisoner of conscience, left Prague today after a successful and enjoyable 4 day visit to the city. During his time in Prague, Mr Rivero met with politicians, journalists and NGO activists and engaged in a number of activities aimed at raising awareness of the plight of those political prisoners remaining in Cuban jails and to the importance of the new EU member states in the transformation and development of EU policy towards Cuba.

During the trip, Mr Rivero met with Czech parliamentarians and former Czech President and ICDC member Václav Havel to discuss the role of the Czech Republic and other new European Union members in influencing EU policy towards Cuba. Mr Havel, himself a longtime political prisoner under the former Czechoslovak communist regime, has repeatedly expressed support for human rights activists in Cuba. Mr Rivero expressed his gratitude to both the Czech parliamentarians and former President Havel for his continued support of the Cuban opposition. "I came to express personally my gratitude ... for the work he did for my freedom and the freedom of our friends," Rivero said after the meeting.

The EU lifted political sanctions imposed on Cuba in 2003 in January as a sign of good will over the release of several political prisoners yet plans to review its ties with Cuba again in June next year. Earlier this month, EU foreign ministers criticized Cuba for continuing violations of human rights, but decided not to re-impose political sanctions against the country.

On Thursday 30 June, Rivero presented his book "Pruebas de contacto" in Krasne Straty, a Prague literary cafe, and opened ‘It is our Problem Too: The Women of the Cuban Spring” by Alexander Polo, an exhibition of photographs and notes of 23 mothers and wives of jailed Cuban dissidents. During the trip, Mr Rivero was also interviewed by a number of representatives from leading Czech media.

For more information concerning the exhibition please see the PIN Cuba Program.

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This project is supported by funds from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic through the Transition Promotion Program.